Summary: john paints a perfect picture of heaven - it’s security, it’s foundation , and it’s contents
May 20, 2001 Revelation 21:10-14,22-23
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
When I was a kid we used to draw up on a piece of paper the way we wanted our homes to look. We would have little streams and bridges running through the middle of our homes, and then cut out a little character and walk them through the home. It was neat to try and dream up the ultimate house. It’s fun to dream about living in the ultimate dream home - you know - the kind with a big screen TV, a hot tub, the works. Even though we may never own it, it’s fun to dream anyway.
Did you ever dream about what heaven will be like? The picture downstairs pictures Jesus walking with two children up to a gloriously gold and white palace. There’s not many drawings of heaven, because it’s hard to picture - isn’t it? But that’s what John does in today’s text.
The Perfect Portrait of Paradise Is Painted for You
I. Showing you it’s security system
If you were to plan the ultimate retirement home - what you would really need - with all of that expensive equipment - is a security system. I can guarantee you that every new home out at McFarland Farm will have security systems. Not only that, but they will also have a gate at the entry way where only certain people can enter. You need security!
That’s one of the first things that John notices. God carried him up to a high mountain - and he noticed the Holy City, Jerusalem come flying down out of the sky. As this city was coming down, he noticed the huge walls that surrounded the city. John later on says that these walls were 1400 miles high and 200 feet thick. It was like a perfect square - with three gates on each side. If you are familiar with Old Testament history, you will notice immediately the similarity between this City and the way the Israelites encamped in the wilderness. Three tribes would be on the north. Three on the south. Three on the west. And three on the east. It would be perfect protection in the middle of the desert - to have the people surround the temple in a perfect square. Not only were there huge walls around the city, but there were also 12 angels standing at each gate - keeping any intruders from coming in. In other words, heaven will be secure! No intruders will be able to come in.
But the main question is - how will we get in!?! We certainly couldn’t climb over 1400 mile high walls! We couldn’t break through walls that were 200 miles thick! We couldn’t overpower holy angels! There isn’t a gate that says, “pretty good people” above it. There isn’t a gate that says, “popular people here.” Sometimes even we have a hard time understanding this as well. We still have a part of us that thinks that just because we go to church and go to the Lord’s Supper we deserve to be called Christians. There is no gate that says, “churchgoers enter through here.” Instead, God has the name of the 12 tribes of Israel on the 12 gates. The only way you can get in is if you are an Israelite. Now there’s only one problem. We aren’t Jewish. We are Gentiles. But when you read the book of Romans, Paul explains what an Israelite really is in the sight of God. An Israelite is one of Abraham’s spiritual descendant. We become “Israelites” in God’s eyes when we believe in God’s promise of the Savior - just as Abraham and the Jews did. So these gates with the Israelites’ names above them can give us comfort. No matter what tribe we are from - North, South, East, and West - Indian, African American, Caucasian, as long as we believe in Christ, we can enter heaven. No matter what religion we are, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, those who despair of their own works and believe in Christ will be in heaven.